Utah State's Space Lab Plays Large Role in Latest Satellite
Karin Hauck
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Utah State's Space Lab Plays Large Role in Latest Satellite

ICON Will Improve Understanding of Upper Atmosphere - 'No Man's Land'

SURAE CHINN, LOGAN, UTAH (GOOD4UTAH) --When it comes to space exploration, the Space Dynamics Lab at Utah State University plays a big role. WATCH THIS NEWS SEGMENT ON GOOD4UTAH.
The newest addition to NASA's fleet of satellites is supposed to improve our understanding of weather tracking and GPS communication. 
Scientists know very little about the upper atmosphere, 60 miles above ground where atmosphere ends and space begins. But ICON or Ionospheric Connection Explorer hopes to change that.  The payload will be part of NASA's mission into space.  
It took engineers tens of thousand of man hours to build the real thing, with the final integration and testing done right here in Logan.
ICON that will hopefully unravel the mystery of this so called 'no mans land.'
Dr. Jed Hancock, Director of Civil Space Division of SDL 'this will tell scientist how weather on earth affects weather in space. This is important because a lot of the systems that we rely on every day life like GPS rely on atmosphere and the ionosphere."
The U.C. Berkeley-led team is in charge of the NASA funded mission along with engineers and scientists across the globe.
Research and testing are done right in our backyard at the Space Dynamics Laboratory or SDL at Utah State. 
Dr. Christoph Englert, Naval Research Laboratory, "It allows us to test instruments in environment much like in orbit we have to make sure it works. We can't send up there to make a repair."
Part of ICON will measure wind and temperature in the colors of Earth's airglow.
Engler, "It's similar to a fire trucks when it comes toward you and away, it sounds differently."
ICON will travel nearly 16,000 miles an hour around earth. It may all be rocket science but it has all the practical uses for us Earthlings. 
Hancock, "So all kids looking for Pokémon rely on understanding how to get communication from satellites."

ICON will be ready to launch in 2017. Scientists will receive data within 30 days of its launch.



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ICON skin is based on Greytness by Adammer
Background image, courtesy of NASA, is a derivitave of photograph taken by D. Pettit from the ISS, used under Creative Commons license